Sardinia has long been known as a millionaire’s playground. This beautiful island south west of Italy, just below Corsica attracts everyone. Flanked by beautiful beaches and crystal clear turquoise water, gorgeous scenery every which way you look, it’s no wonder.
The choice of accommodation is boggling; from the top five star properties around Porto Cervo in the north – the real millionaires playground – to the Forte Village in the south with all manner of smaller and less ‘luxurious’ properties in between, it can seem impossible to choose.
Families are well-catered for with many hotels offering kids clubs but this time around, my extensive research led me to a gorgeous family-run hotel without all the bells and whistles and often chaos that goes with family-oriented properties.
Instead you get exemplary personal service, fragrant, floral, heavenly grounds housing immaculate rooms and suites set out in a ‘village’ setting with a spectacular pool, food of a standard that you barely ever get in a hotel and a lovely mix of international clientele to boot; not too many children, nobody loud and obnoxious and lots of Italians – a sure fire sign of a real find. For larger parties of discerning guests there is even a standalone villa comprising three separate suites, set in its own lush garden with its own private pool.
Hotels rarely live up to expectations, let alone exceed them but Hotel La Rocca deserves every positive review and more.
So we leave London on a handy early morning flight from Luton. Booked a taxi through the Gettaxi app, that was ready and waiting on time and headed off to Olbia. Greeted again at the other end by a luxurious people carrier booked online through Hopper and costing almost half of the ridiculous prices quotes in Sardinia (beware – taxis cost a fortune), we are sped thirty minutes through the beautiful island to the hotel.
When we arrive we are greeted by a big rock – the hotel is build around these almost-pink natural occurrences and they have used the opportunity to work with them, creating a stunning pool around one and a delightful, well-equipped spa together with an indoor pool around another.
Next up, an assault of flowers. The gardens are lovingly manicured each day.
I traveled with my mum and little boy for this trip – there are only so many trips Mr PCG can afford to take time off work for. We stayed in a sea-view suit; two rooms with a bathroom in between. I started out in the bedroom with my mum but quickly took advantage of the very comfortable double sofa bed (plenty of storage in both rooms) and the cuddles from my little one instead in the sitting room.
Opening out on to our own terrace – table and chairs for shady relaxation or playing in our case with thoughtful extras like a tasteful, built in wooden washing line to dry swimming costumes in the balmy overnight air.
Hotel La Rocca is charm personified. Which brings me to the staff. I haven’t been somewhere in a long time where the staff are add so much value. So kind, helpful and gracious and brimming with that love of children that Italy is so well-known for. My little boy hasn’t been so sociable to strangers ever.
A special mention here has to go to Luca – who ferried us around tirelessly in the hotel Mercedes minibus between the beach (three mins) and the hotel and to the supermarket and the nearby picturesque seaside ‘village’ of Baia Sardinia (five minutes) where we went almost every day for artisan ice-cream and a little retail therapy.
All the staff are lovely – from the chambermaids who kept our suite spotless and arrived twice each day, always at a convenient time, to the reception staff – Ernestina, always smiling, to the all the waiters in the restaurants. This takes me to the food.
We opted for the half board option. Amazing value for what you get. Breakfast on the terrace looking out to the mountains and surrounded by flowers, for me my favourite meal of the day and not the usual let-down that you can get in Italy.
So much choice – five different types of croissant – beware the Nutella-filled one- it’s addictive – pastries galore, eggs, hot food, cheese, meats, fruit, a selection of cakes, yogurts and cereals and delicious hot chocolate to boot. This hotel has a superstar pastry chef so expect to eat!
For a more formal lunch and tablecloth service, the beach restaurant, perched above the azure sea offers mouthwatering pasta, perfectly cooked fish and lobster dishes and ice cream – try the strawberry and profiteroles that will add pounds!
The one complaint I have is that I ate far too much. Dinner; four courses of delicious food – a pasta course always followed by secondi – fish, meat and vegetarian offered varied and exciting menus each day. Antipasti to start; each day five or six mouthwatering dishes, finished off by a dessert buffet groaning with cakes and pastries always with a huge platter of fresh fruit.
Led by the lovely Imad to whom Alexander took a real shine and vice versa, the waiters looked after us so well. This place is all about the people and the service. I cannot reiterate that enough.
If relaxing on the private (free!) beach or by the enormous pool doesn’t relax you enough, then there’s always the spa. For a small hotel, it’s a formidable space with facilities better suited to Austria – the spa specialists of Europe. I have it on good knowledge that the massages are seriously good plus there is an indoor pool to boot.
There are no specific facilities for kids but the Italians love children and it shows. Childcare can be arranged and we lucked out with Giulia – a fluent English speaker who became Alexander’s best friend for the whole week.
This was one of the most relaxing stays I have experienced in a while. The staff, the surroundings and the attitude of this fantastic family-owned property propel it to my must revisit soon list. A true gem of a hotel in a gem of an island. Just go!